20 NFL Rookies Who Already Look Like Stars in 2017

The 2017 NFL campaign is under way. Through the first couple of weeks of the season, we’ve seen a number rookie stars shine brighter than expected. In fact, some have even watched their stock venture into “superstar” territory with some otherworldly performances. Things can obviously change in a hurry in this league, but what we’ve seen thus far has painted a pretty picture for the following 20 rookies.

They may carry different draft statuses and play for different teams, but these 20 rookies have been among the best in the NFL this season. Some might even dare say they’ve emerged as stars during the early part of the 2017 season.

RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
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The hands-down breakout rookie of 2017, Kareem Hunt has been a star during the early part of the season. It all started with his monstrous debut that saw him rack up 246 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. He’s immediately asserted himself as a dynamic playmaker in the Kansas City Chiefs offense, making the injury to Spencer Ware seem like a blessing in disguise.

OLB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
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It only took one game for T.J. Watt to show us that football stardom runs in the family. During his NFL debut, he amassed seven tackles, two sacks and an interception while helping the Pittsburgh Steelers secure a hard-fought win. There were some questions about his status as a 2017 first-round pick, but he’s already laid them to rest. If he can turn out to be anything like his big brother, Watt will be a star for the Steelers — it already appears that will be his fate.

RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
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Filling Adrian Peterson‘s shoes was always going to be a difficult task for rookie Dalvin Cook. That, however, was the role the Minnesota Vikings drafted him for, and he hasn’t disappointed through the early part of the 2017 campaign. It all started in Week 1 with his record-setting debut during which he racked up 127 rushing yards. He’s strong, elusive and a seasoned pass blocker. The Vikings got a second-round steal with Cook.

ILB Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions
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Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, I was under the impression that Jarrad Davis would be a superstar linebacker no matter where he landed. Then the Detroit Lions took him off the board at No. 21 overall, and I knew he’d be something special. Since arriving in the Motor City, Davis has earned a starting job while asserting himself as one of the league’s best rookie linebackers. His game still needs work, but the impact he’s made early has been unmistakable.

RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
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There hasn’t been a ton to be excited about when it comes to the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. If there is one real source of hubbub, though, it’s rookie runner Leonard Fournette. The No. 4 overall selection came into the draft drawing Adrian Peterson comparisons for his otherworldly mix of size, speed and power. While he hasn’t been a complete revelation, his reliable running and nose for the end zone should keep this Jacksonville ground game going strong.

DT Eddie Vanderdoes, Oakland Raiders
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The Oakland Raiders went into the offseason looking for an upgrade at the three-technique. By all appearances, they found it in the form of third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes. He’s shown impressive ability to get after opposing quarterbacks, throwing around blockers in the process. Although he has yet to notch a sack through two games, Vanderdoes’ ability to collapse the pocket and make passers uncomfortable is exactly what Oakland drafted him to do.

RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
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Up to this point, most of the guys on this list have been Day 1 or Day 2 selections. Tarik Cohen, however, didn’t come off the board until the fifth round. If he can continue on this trajectory, he’ll emerge as one of the biggest steals of the 2017 NFL Draft for the Chicago Bears. During his debut, he carried the Chicago offense, tallying 133 total yards and a touchdown on only 13 touches. His elite athleticism and elusiveness will make him a human highlight reel for years to come.

OLB Tyus Bowser, Baltimore Ravens
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I knew Tyus Bowser had the potential to be something special based on the damage he did during his days at Houston. However, I wasn’t entirely sure he was going to make his mark this early as a rookie. At the same time, it makes sense considering the Baltimore Ravens‘ situation at outside linebacker. With Terrell Suggs getting up there in age, Bowser has been given the opportunity to earn his keep early and he hasn’t disappointed. Before long, expect the rookie to become a household name given his elite pass-rushing abilities.

WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
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There was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Cooper Kupp heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Some saw him as a potential sleeper, while others figured his lack of athleticism would catch up to him in the pros. Well, based on what we’ve seen, the Los Angeles Rams‘ 2017 third-round pick was worth the hype. He’s quickly emerged as a favorite target of sophomore quarterback Jared Goff, who should look Kupp’s way early and often this season.

ILB Haason Reddick, Arizona Cardinals
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One of the quick risers of the 2017 draft class, Haason Reddick has lived up to the hype since the Arizona Cardinals took him off the board on Day 1. Using his elite athleticism and pass-rushing chops, he’s made an instant impact for the Arizona defense as one of the starting inside linebackers. As he continues to adjust to the size and speed of the NFL, look for Reddick to cement himself as a star for the Cardinals.

TE Evan Engram, New York Giants
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Initially, it seemed like Evan Engram‘s role in the New York Giants‘ passing game would be inconsistent at best. However, through the early part of the season, it’s looking like Eli Manning is enjoying the ability to connect with his rookie tight end. The fact that Odell Beckham Jr. has been injured obviously helps. Even when OBJ is back to full strength, though, I foresee Engram continuing to serve as a key piece of the New York passing game.

ILB Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans
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As if the Houston Texans didn’t already have enough talent on defense, they landed another potential star in Zach Cunningham. The 2017 second-round pick has quickly carved out a role for himself on the Houston defense, proving to be an excellent all-around defender who uses his athleticism and instincts to track down the football. As his role continues to expand, look for Cunningham to emerge as one of the Texans’ top playmakers.

RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
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When training camp got under way, there were a number of running backs vying for the Seattle Seahawks‘ starting job. Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise were all considered in the mix to win the top spot on the depth chart. However, it appears as though seventh-round rookie Chris Carson could be the top dog to emerge from this skirmish. In limited action to start the season, he’s shined when given touches and should see his usage rise even more in the coming weeks.

CB Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills
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While they haven’t looked like a standout team so far, the Buffalo Bills do boast a quality defense. One of the key components on that side of the ball for Buffalo has been Tre’Davious White, the team’s 2017 first-round pick. While many were skeptical of the selection, the LSU product is already proving to be a draft pick well spent. White has looked terrific in coverage while also displaying the aggressiveness to make plays against the run. The future is bright for the Bills’ young cornerback.

QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
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Honestly, it hasn’t all been great for Deshaun Watson. The Houston Texans‘ quarterback of the future was thrust into action after Week 1 starter Tom Savage proved completely inept. Watson has made some plays as the new starter, but is also dealing with the expected rookie hiccups. Despite that, he’s shown elite athleticism and playmaking abilities while flashing the arm talent that made him a first-round pick this past April. We’ve seen the star power — now we just need to see it more often.

OT Garret Bolles, Denver Broncos
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It’s unfortunate that Garret Bolles suffered a worrisome ankle sprain in Week 2. Prior to that, he was looking like a star in the making. Drafted to be the Denver Broncos‘ new left tackle, the former Utah sensation quickly made his presence felt. Bolles shined in the season opener, and was playing a huge role in Trevor Siemian‘s surprisingly efficient play through the first couple of games. Once healthy, he should continue his ascension.

CB Shaquill Griffin, Seattle Seahawks
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Heading into training camp, there were a number of candidates to start opposite Richard Sherman as the No. 2 cornerback. In most people’s minds, third-round rookie Shaquill Griffin wasn’t one of them. However, he was going to allow that to hold him back — he shined during camp and the preseason, earning the right to start for the Seahawks in Year 1. He’s shined early in the year, and promises to only get better as his NFL career develops.

DE Deatrich Wise, New England Patriots
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The retirement of Rob Ninkovich and failure of the Kony Ealy trade left the New England Patriots with a significant hole at defensive end. Then rookie Deatrich Wise emerged during training camp and the preseason, and life got a little easier for Bill Belichick and Co. Although he hasn’t locked down a starting role just yet, Wise has done a great job of getting after opposing quarterbacks. Look for the young edge rusher to make that a common occurrence in 2017.

DT Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants
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It’s seem strange that a rookie could stand out on the Giants defensive line. With players like Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Jason Pierre-Paul up front, it was unlikely that Dalvin Tomlinson would shine this brightly to start the season. Instead, that’s exactly what he’s done. Not only did the second-round pick steal a starting job along one of the NFL’s top defensive fronts, but Tomlinson is already making a noticeable impact. It’s only going to get better as his rookie season rolls along.

OLB Alex Anzalone, New Orleans Saints
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Based on his college film, we all knew the potential was there with ,strong>Alex Anzalone. The problem was that he could never stay healthy at Florida, forcing his stock to fall significantly when draft time rolled around. Still, the New Orleans Saints rolled the dice in the third round and are already watched their investment pay dividends. Anzalone flies around the field making big hits and using his elite athleticism to cause headaches for opposing offenses.